PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
NARRATOR: Lauren Fortang
LENGTH: 448 pages/11 hours, 52 minutes
SUMMARY: Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her – or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
REVIEW: I was a little disappointed in this second installment of the Grisha world’s story. Bardugo created a good balance between reviewing events from the first book and beginning the action of the second book. The story is bookended some good action in the beginning with Alina and Mal’s hiding from The Darkling and the siege at the end. Unfortunately, after the initial few scenes, I felt the story stalled. Alina spends a lot of time contemplating the repercussions of creating and wearing amplifiers. I felt suspended in a limbo-land waiting for Alina to claim the power that everyone else seems sure she has. The world-building continues and character development is impeccable.
I was irritated with Alina’s refusal to trust Mal and confide in him. This follows the typical “obstacles to romance” template in many YA book series but it was difficult for me to believe that Alina would have kept her thoughts and feelings from Mal. Their bond created from growing up together in the orphanage and everything they went through in the first book makes me think that Alina would have felt more comfortable discussing her crisis of conscience with Mal.
I did like the juxtaposition of Alina’s comfort, loyalty, and love for Mal with the intrigue, betrayal, and passion she feels for The Darkling. The tug Alina feels for The Darkling is believable and her inner struggle with being attracted to “the enemy” is as tantalizing for the readers as it is for her. I enjoyed the inclusion of characters from the first book and introduction of new characters. The addition of Sturmhond added an element of humor that is not as prevalent in the first book. And the saving grace for this book is that it still made me want to finish the series. Despite the slower pace of the book, I can’t wait to see how Alina, Mal, and The Darkling’s story turns out.